In June 2019, the second season of Chapa Dimba na Safaricom came to end. With its conclusion came what could quite possibly the beginning of a shining career for 17-year-old Enock Brian Wanyama, the left-footed midfielder who was named the Most Valuable Player in the Nairobi region for his role in guiding the team to the tournament’s national finals.
Wanyama is no ordinary teenager; he’s a rising star. His skills on the pitch, where his speed and agility are earning him a respectable reputation, have made him a young player to watch, something that saw him join the select team that travelled to Spain courtesy of a partnership between Safaricom and La Liga. This trip, he says, fanned his desire to go pro.
“It was a life-changing trip for me. I came back a different person and I will forever be grateful to the organisers for the opportunity. I saw what it means to play football at the top level professionally, and I will now work harder to achieve my dream of becoming a professional footballer in the near future,” he says.
Wanyama’s football journey did not start with Chapa Dimba, the Safaricom-sponsored football tournament that seeks to identify and nurture raw talent right from grassroots level, churning out talent for both local and international leagues.
“I was born in Huruma but my parents moved to Kiserian, Rongai and that is where I grew up. I went to ACK Good Shepherd Primary School and that is where I fell in love with football, while in class three. I however noticed I had a special talent for this while at Highway Secondary School, which is where I was spotted by South B United. They started following my progress from my participation in the school games, and I signed for the team immediately after completing high school,” he says.
His story seems remarkably similar to that of his namesake, Victor Wanyama, the Kenyan national team captain who also plays as a defensive midfielder for English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.
But the younger Wanyama wants to forge his own path. Speaking to him, you can tell he has grand plans to build a name for himself, and he plans to do it using every avenue available to him. For him, tournaments such as Chapa Dimba offer the opportunity to hone and showcase his skills, and to compete alongside tens of other talented, hungry, players. His immediate plans? Wanyama wants to move to either a National Super League or Kenyan Premier League team.
“Chapa Dimba has created awareness, now people know that there are talented players at the grassroots level. It has also marketed me to the world, and that is a good thing,” he says, adding: “My dream is to get a good team now that the (Chapa Dimba) tournament is over, and to turn my football passion into a career that can sustain me. I’d love to join Wazito FC, who I trained with as an apprentice while still at South B United.”
Wanyama says his experience there was wonderful and credits their then coach, Frank Ouna, with improving his skills as a player. He also has his eye on joining a team like AFC Leopards, saying he believes it’s time for a new crop of talent to challenge 18-time Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia.
This determination to challenge the status quo is one of the things that caught the eye of Masese Mokua, the South B United team manager, who believes Wanyama can achieve the greatness he desires.
“He is very skillful, has got exceptional ball control and his vision is great. Several teams have already expressed interest in his services and we are currently reviewing the offers. We play in the Nairobi West County League but as a team we are all in agreement that he now deserves to play at the top level so we will allow him to move,” says Masese, who adds that he has seen Wanyama mature as a player.
“Initially he was eager for quick success and he tried out with some teams before he was ready, and he ended up coming back to South B United where we worked hard to refine his talent. We are proud to say he has matured physically, mentally and is now ready for the big leap,” says Masese.
Wanyama is currently among the crop of players at the South B United Football Academy whom Masese believes can play at the top level, and the first in the institute, which was established in 2010, that can break into the national league.
Although Wanyama’s team went on to lose to Rift Valley’s Al Ahly FC at the Chapa Dimba national semi-finals in Meru, the talented midfielder remains positive about his future in the sport.
“I have learned a lot and Chapa Dimba na Safaricom has made me a better player. Even though we did not win, I am a better person and player, and I know it is the beginning of great things in my life,” he says.
“Some people think the name Wanyama comes with a great burden to me since the Kenyan national team captain is also known as Wanyama. But to me, it really isn’t a big deal. I admire him and his personality, and I am a young player, I can learn from him. I also look up to Paul Were (Kenyan national team midfielder) since he is left-footed and has a lot of skills on the ball, just like I do,” says Wanyama.
For now, the young, passionate player is biding his time, sharpening the skills he believes can one day propel him to the English Premier League, where he sees himself playing for Arsenal FC.
“They have a tradition of nurturing young talent, and I believe I would fit right in.”